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‘Fiscal Cliff’ Simplified

When the news comes on and they start to discuss the “Fiscal Cliff” and the “Debt Ceiling”, do you find yourself getting confused?I do, and it’s not just because I am from Vermilion Parish.  Well, maybe a little, but I find myself so ‘disconnected’ from the numbers that I have a hard time following what is happening in this country.  Until now.

I don’t know who is responsible for putting this bit of ‘information’ together, but when I saw it, my view of what is happening in this country became a bit clearer:  the numbers were proportioned DOWN to what I am more familiar with in my own life.

Here are the numbers (although not exact) that our country is facing:

U.S. Tax Revenue:    $2,170,000,000,000

Federal Budget:        $3,820,000,000,000

New Debt:                  $1,650,000,000,000

National Debt:            $14,271,000,000,000

Recent budget Cuts:   $38,500,000,000


Now let’s remove 8 zeroes and pretend that this is a household (family)  budget, the numbers in a range that we are more familiar with in our lives:

Annual Income:                                          $21,700

Money the family has spent:                      $38,200

New Debt on the credit card:                     $16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card:  $142,710

Total budget cuts so far:                               $38.50

Do these numbers make it easier to understand the national budget?  They did for me…

In a very (VERY) simplified fashion, these numbers represent what we, as a country, are dealing with:  an almost upside-down budget that we might NEVER pay off!  A little scary, isn’t it?

One of the things that I don’t understand is why they keep raising the ‘debt ceiling';  it’s like turning up the car radio when you hear a squeak from the engine….. eventually, whatever is squeaking will fail, and you’ll need a new engine, but you couldn’t tell how severe the problem had become because you kept turning up the radio so as not to hear the squeak get louder!

Another way to look at what is called the “Debt Ceiling”:

Imagine that you get home from work and the sewer system in your neighborhood is clogged up, and your home has sewage all the way up to the ceiling;  what do you do?

Do you   a) raise the ceiling; or

b) clean the sewage from your home and clear the clog?


I think that any 4th grader knows that we should clear the clog and clean the sewage from our homes:  it seems like we need 4th graders in Congress – I think that they would understand that it’s not healthy for a family, a city, a state, or a country, to try to run without a budget….

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